Tibetan Self-Immolator's Family Harassed, Visitors Restricted

tibet-bora2-051017.jpg Bora monastery in Gansu province is shown in an undated photo.
Photo sent by an RFA listener

Authorities in northwestern China’s Gansu province have imposed restrictions on the family of a Tibetan self-immolation protester, preventing them from holding prayer services and blocking visits by relatives and friends, a source in the region says.

The move has upset and distressed the parents of Chagdor Kyab, a 16-year-old student who set himself ablaze on May 2 in Gansu’s Bora township in a challenge to Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Chinese police have moved away from the site of the self-immolation itself, making it seem that things have returned to normal,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But security personnel and other officials have now gone to Chagdor Kyab’s family home, causing them much inconvenience.”

“Authorities are not allowing the family to invite monks to perform religious rituals for Chagdor Kyab, and they are also preventing friends and other people from the village from visiting the family [to offer their condolences],” he said.

Kyab’s May 2 protest near Bora monastery in Gansu’s Gannan (in Chinese, Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture brought to 149 the total number of self-immolations by Tibetans living in Tibetan areas of China since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009.

As he burned, Kyab called out for Tibetan freedom and the return to Tibet of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

He then tried to run toward Chinese government offices in Bora township but collapsed in the street, sources said.

Chinese authorities immediately imposed a strict clampdown on communications in the area, making it difficult to obtain further information. It is not yet clear whether Kyab has died of his injuries, and his whereabouts have not been verified.

Travel, phone use restricted

Restrictions imposed in the wake of two earlier self-immolations in neighboring Sichuan have meanwhile been tightened, with residents outside Kardze (Ganzi) county required to obtain special permits for travel to the Kardze county seat, a Tibetan source says.

“Once the Tibetans have their documents ready, they again have to seek permission from the authorities before they can proceed,” a Tibetan living in exile told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in the region.

Clampdowns are also in place on Tibetans’ use of mobile phones and social media, and political reeducation courses are now mandated in the county’s monasteries, schools, villages, and towns, RFA’s source said.

“Tibetans are being warned that they can be sentenced to 15 years in jail if they are caught sharing photos or video of self-immolations with outside sources. And this has deterred many Tibetans from sharing stories outside their areas,” he said.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin and Dawa Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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